There were no demons in the pitch on Wednesday but Mumbai batters struggled against a disciplined Maharashtra bowling attack. It ended second day’s play at 187 for 5 after Mohit Avasthi claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in First Class cricket to bundle out Maharashtra for 384.
In the crucial Ranji Trophy Elite Group B fixture, Mumbai is trailing by 197 runs and its hopes are now pinned on wicketkeeper-batter Prasad Pawar (99 n.o., 170b, 12x4), who batted with confidence even as wickets tumbled at the other end.
After initially aiding the seamers in the first session of the opening day, the Brabourne Stadium surface eventually dried up. However, in the absence of Sarfaraz Khan, the Mumbai batting department failed to fire.
Returning to the fold after missing the last two games, Yashasvi Jaiswal was trapped leg-before by Pradeep Dadhe off the first ball of the innings. Coming out to bat at No. 3, it hardly seemed like Pawar was playing only his third First Class match. With a calm and cool demeanour, he forged a 79-run partnership with debutant Divyaansh Saxena and added 43 runs to the tally with Suved Parkar, before the latter was cleaned up by Vicky Otswal off the final ball of the day.
Pawar started off with a flurry of boundaries to put the pressure back on Maharashtra bowlers. The two looked comfortable before Ashay Palkar broke the momentum, tempting Saxena to poke at the ball outside the off-stump to offer a catch to Saurabh Nawale behind the stumps.
Pawar brought up his half-century with a classy boundary, but Mumbai lost the plot as captain Ajinkya Rahane was caught behind by Nawale trying to chase a Dadhe delivery outside the off stump, after hitting three quick boundaries. Armaan Jaffer, too, made a promising start before being caught behind off Satyajeet Bachhav.
Earlier, Maharashtra added 70 runs to its overnight score of 314-6 before Avasthi furrowed the tail. He struck early, cleaning up Nawale for 58 off 74 in his second over of the day. But with three dropped catches, Maharashtra managed to extend the lead with Palkar remaining not out at 66.
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